Hearing loss will change your life. By making communication and sound comprehension more challenging, hearing loss creates new hurdles in your standard day-to-day routine. Then, if hearing loss goes untreated, it can hold you back – sometimes in ways you can’t anticipate. For workers with hearing loss, understanding how much their hearing impairment can affect their professional life is critical to connecting with the best ways to manage hearing loss.
Keeping Up Or Falling Behind?
What factors come into play for workers with hearing loss? At many jobs, employees are rewarded for quick comprehension and responsiveness. While employees with hearing loss may be full of strategies and ideas, they may be more prone to misinterpret information – or hold back because they are uncertain what has already been conveyed. Information and projects are often brought up verbally, meaning that details and meanings can be tricky to parse for employees with hearing loss. From formal meetings to casual break room conversations, hearing loss can create stress and missed signals.
There are strategies for better hearing at a workplace. Positioning yourself to read lips is a good technique for multi-person conversations. Sitting with your back towards a wall may muffle some room noise and improve your ability to determine the directionality of incoming sounds. Simply asking for information to be repeated or provided in written form can also assist your comprehension.
An Unfair Limitation
So many aspects of the modern workplace rely on communication that hearing loss has the potential to make your job harder and less rewarding if it goes untreated. Especially for people with significant hearing loss that is moderate, severe or profound, the workplace consequences of unaddressed hearing loss can have serious financial consequences – marked by an average decreased earning power from their counterparts with normal hearing. Workers with profound untreated hearing loss took home an average 10% less earnings.
The effect of hearing loss on employment also shows up when examining unemployment numbers. People with untreated hearing loss have a significantly higher unemployment rate than peers with healthy hearing.
While these facts are discouraging, they can be addressed and worked against. Treating hearing loss is fundamental to opening up greater communication possibilities. Hearing aids have been shown to significantly improve comprehension and quality of life for those managing hearing loss. Accessibility tools are also rapidly multiplying in today’s technology-driven jobs making it easier to find resources that help you keep up on the job.
Disclosing Hearing Loss
One important decision you may have to make at your workplace is whether or not to disclose your hearing loss. Disclosure is a personal decision and whether or not you make your hearing challenges known is entirely up to you.
A big reason to disclose hearing loss is that adaptive technology can make the workplace more accessible than ever before with tools specially designed for those with hearing difficulties. Accommodations for hearing loss make sure that information that is presented verbally is also available in written or visual formats to aid comprehension and keep you in the loop. Meetings and other workplace activities can be recorded and auto-captioned by a variety of free services so employees with hearing difficulty have an opportunity to review material.
While there are movements to make workplaces more accessible in general, disclosing hearing loss can provide you with the specific accommodations that allow you to perform your best on the job, especially if your workplace does not automatically offer accessible resources.
On the Job Hearing Hazards
Sometimes your job can be a source of hazardous noise. While hearing loss occurs for a wide range of reasons, many cases of hearing loss can be prevented by limiting exposure to harmful levels of noise. Sounds that register at over 85 decibels (dB) can permanently damage your hearing – the louder the noise, the less exposure it takes to harm your hearing.
If your job is a source of dangerously loud noise, you are entitled to appropriate hearing protection. Take protecting your hearing seriously, always make sure you know how to properly wear hearing protection to avoid the onset or worsening of hearing loss. Consult with your employer if you are concerned about noise levels at your job.
Are you concerned about your hearing health? We’re here to help. We provide comprehensive hearing health services, from hearing tests to hearing aid fittings to custom hearing protection. Contact us today to learn more!